20 June 2002

>UA 187/02 Fear for Safety

COLOMBIA Luis Enrique Imbachi (m), Acting President of Sindicato de Trabajadores de las Empresas Municipales de Cali (SINTRAEMCALI), Cali Municipal Service Workers Trade Union Other members of SINTRAEMCALI

Amnesty International is seriously concerned for the safety of Luis Enrique Imbachi, acting president of the Sindicato de Trabajadores de las Empresas Municipales de Cali (SINTRAEMCALI), Cali Municipal Service Workers Trade Union, and other members of the trade union, following a reported attempt on his life in Cali, Valle del Cauca Department.

On 16 June, at approximately 9:30pm, Luis Enrique Imbachi was travelling in the vehicle assigned to him by the Ministry of the Interior's Protection Program. He was accompanied by his bodyguard, Ibaney Gonzalez. According to reports, as his car travelled along the Ciudad de Cali Avenue, two motorcycles and a taxi followed at speed. They proceeded to go alongside and in front of the car and attempts were made to look inside.

After approximately one kilometre, the motorcyclist on the right of Luis Imbachi's car reportedly aimed a revolver at the rear right side of the car, where Luis was seated. Luis reportedly ordered his bodyguard to swerve into the motorcycle, which quickly sped away.

Ibaney Gonzalez reportedly tried to contact the Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad, (DAS), Department of Administrative Security - the Colombian civilian intelligence service, by radio immediately following the apparent attempt on the life Luis Imbachi, but no one answered his calls. They then allegedly drove to the DAS offices to report the incident to the duty inspector.


Early this year, members of SINTRAEMCALI held a 36 day occupation of the Municipal Administration Centre (CAM) Building in Cali from 25 December 2001 to 31 January 2002 as part of the union's campaign against the privatization of Cali's electricity, water, sewage and telecommunications utilities.

During the occupation, SINTRAEMCALI members and their supporters were accused in the press, by members of the armed forces of having links with armed opposition groups in a 'terrorist plot' to destabilize the city. The Army-backed paramilitary group Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), United Self Defence Forces of Colombia, also declared members of SINTRAEMCALI to be 'paramilitary targets' following the occupation.

The security and armed forces and their paramilitary allies have often accused trade unionists, of being guerrilla sympathizers. As a result trade unionists have frequently been harassed, tortured and killed, often by paramilitaries. The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) recorded that in 2001 alone, over 160 trade unionists were murdered, and that harassment and violence is widespread. According to reports from the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores (CUT), Colombian Trade Union Confederation, so far this year some 86 trade unionists have been killed the majority by army-backed paramilitaries.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible:

- expressing concern for the safety of Luis Enrique Imbachi and other SINTRAEMCALI members in Valle del Cauca;

- asking the authorities what action they will take to guarantee the safety of those at risk, and calling for the Ministry of Interior's protection program for trade unionists to be adequately resourced;

- calling for a full and impartial investigation into the attempt against Luis Enrique Imbachi, with the results made public and those responsible brought to justice;

- calling for a full and impartial investigation into links between the security forces and paramilitary groups operating in Valle del Cauca Department, and asking that the results of the investigation are made public and those found responsible for supporting and participating in such groups are brought to justice;

- urging the authorities to take immediate action to dismantle paramilitary groups, in line with stated government commitments and recommendations made by the UN and other intergovernmental >organizations.


President of Colombia:
Senor Presidente Andres Pastrana
Presidente de la Republica
Palacio de Narino, Carrera 8 No. 7-26
Santafe de Bogota, Colombia
Telegrams: President Pastrana, Bogota, Colombia Fax: 011 57 1 334 1323
Salutation: Dear President Pastrana / Excelentisimo Sr. Presidente Pastrana

Alvaro Uribe is Colombia's president-elect. He won the elections on 26 May and will take office on 7 August. Andres Pastrana is the president until Uribe takes office on the 7th, as such all appeals, letters, etc. should be directed to him until then.

National Advocate for the people:

Sr. Eduardo Cifuentes Munoz,
Defensor del Pueblo
Defensoria del Pueblo,
Calle 55, No. 10-32/46 office 301,
Santafe de Bogota, COLOMBIA
Telegrams: National Advocate, Bogota, Colombia Fax: 011 57 1 640 0491 / 346 1225
Salutation: Dear Mr. Cifuentes Munoz / Estimado Sr. Cifuentes Munoz

Attorney General:
Dr. Luis Camilo Osorio
Fiscal General de la Nacion
Fiscalia General de la Nacion
Apartado Aereo 29855, Diagonal 22B 52-01 (Ciudad Salite),
Santafe de Bogota, COLOMBIA
Telegrams: Fiscal General, Bogota, Colombia Fax: 011 57 1 570 2022 / 2017 (if someone answers say 'me da tono de fax por favor')
Salutation: Dear Dr. Osorio / Estimado Dr. Osorio

Human Rights Organization:
AA 18621

Ambassador Luis Alberto Moreno
Embassy of Colombia
2118 Leroy Pl. NW
Washington DC 20008
Fax: 1 202 232 8643

Please send appeals immediately. Check with the Colorado office between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm, Mountain Time, weekdays only, if sending appeals after August 1, 2002.